Articles Posted in Goldman Sachs

In the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, preliminary settlements have been submitted in which Deutsche Bank (DB) will pay $48.5M and Bank of America (BAC) will pay $17M to resolve investor lawsuits accusing them of manipulating the agency bond market for years. A judge must still approve the settlements.

Despite settling, both banks maintain they did not engage in any wrongdoing. The lead plaintiff investors include the Sheet Metal Workers Pension Plan of Northern California and the Iron Workers Pension Plan of Western Pennsylvania, and KBC Asset Management NV.

According to court papers and as reported by Reuters, Bank of America and Deutsche Bank are two of the 10 banks accused of rigging the $9 trillion agency bond market for supranational, sub-sovereign and agency bonds, also known as SSA bonds. The plaintiffs contend that from 2005 to 2015 the banks shared price information with one another, worked as a “super-desk” together, and allowed traders to coordinate strategies in the name of profit. Meantime, customers had to accept bond prices that were unfair to them.

News that President-Elect Donald Trump has nominated Wall Street defense attorney Jay Clayton as the next of Securities and Exchange Commission Chair is causing worries that a person who has legally represented big banks may soon be in charge of the agency of the federal government that is tasked with regulating the securities industry.

For example, Clayton was the attorney for Goldman Sachs (GS) when billionaire Warren Buffet gave the firm a $5B capital infusion during the financial crisis of 2008. He also represented Barclays (BARC) when it acquired Lehman Brothers’ assets and he was the attorney for Bear Stearns when JPMorgan (JPM) bought the firm in a fire sale.

Clayton’s wife Gretchen is a Goldman Sachs wealth management advisor and broker. This means that Goldman, one of the firms that he is in charge of regulating, is also providing income to his family through her salary and any bonuses. Although Clayton will have to recuse himself when there are any enforcement rulings involving Goldman, he won’t have to in rulemaking decisions of “general application” that could impact the bank as long as other banks are also affected.

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Goldman Sachs Group and Goldman, Sachs & Co. (GS) will pay a $120M penalty to settle Commodity Futures Trading Commission Charges accusing the firm of trying to manipulate the U.S. Dollar International Swaps and Derivatives Association Fix, as well as of falsifying related reports to enhance its derivatives positions. The USD ISDAFIX is the global benchmark is for interest rate products. Its rates and spreads are tied to benchmarks for interest swaps and related derivatives, which in turn impact a number or currencies’ daily market rate. A number of local and state governments in this country, as well as pension funds, depend on instruments determined by USD ISDAFIX when hedging against certain interest rate changes.

Now, the CFTC wants Goldman to not only pay the civil penalty but also to cease and desist from the violations charged. The regulator contends that multiple Goldman traders, including the firm’s Interest Rate Products Trading Group head in the US, were involved in the alleged misconduct.

The CFTC said that Goldman, via its traders, engaged in transactions involving US treasuries, interest rate swap spreads, and Eurodollar futures contracts in a way specifically designed to impact the published interest rate benchmark. Goldman also purportedly tried to rig and make false reports about the USD ISDAFIX through these employees’ actions. These alleged acts were at the expense of clients and derivatives counterparties.

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Goldman Sachs and Reno, NV Settle Securities Fraud Case 
According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, the city of Reno is about to settle its securities fraud lawsuit against Goldman Sachs (GS) for $750K. Nevada’s capital city claims that the firm misled it into taking on risky debt that nearly caused Reno to become insolvent. The Reno City Council will vote on approving the settlement next week. Other details of the settlement remain undisclosed at this time.

The auction-rate securities lawsuit involved over $210M in bonds issued by Reno in ’05 and ’06 to refinance the debt for an events center and another facility. The city claims that Goldman Sachs never disclosed that the ARS market was very risky or that the firm was bidding interest rates down to hold up the market.

When the financial collapse happened in 2008 and banks ceased to bid on auction rates, rates went soaring. This left Reno with a 15% debt interest rate and millions of dollars in penalties that it now owed Goldman. For example, in 2012 Reno paid the firm $2.6M. It paid the Goldman Sachs $7M the following year.

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) has arrived at a settlement with  ACA Financial Guaranty Corp. The bond insurer’s securities fraud lawsuit accuses the investment bank of fraudulently persuading it to guarantee payments on the , a collateralized debt obligation, prior to the financial crisis. ACA Financial Guaranty claims that Goldman and hedge fund Paulson & Co. fooled it into insuring the CDO. Details of the CDO fraud settlement have not been disclosed.

In its $120M CDO fraud case, ACA claimed it was deceived into thinking that Paulson & Co. would hold Abacus for the long-term, when, in fact, the fund played a part in choosing the CDO’s assets before taking a short position and bet that the mortgages underlying the securities would fail. ACA alleged that Abacus was set up in a manner to allow Paulson to make “huge profits” and Goldman to earn “huge fees.”

Although a NY judge had said that the case, brought in 2011, could proceed, an appeals court reversed that decision in 2013. The New York Supreme Court reversed the appeals court’s ruling in 2015.

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 Nomura Home Equity Loan, Inc. and Nomura Asset Acceptance Corporation have agreed to jointly pay over $3M to settle allegations that they engaged in the sale of faulty residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) to the Western Corporate Federal Credit Union and the U.S. Central Federal Credit Union. The National Credit Union Administration brought the RMBS fraud case on behalf of the  two corporate credit unions.
 
It was in 2011 that the NCUA Board, while serving as liquidating agent for both financial institutions, brought the claims against the Nomura entities. The RMBS lawsuit was brought in federal district courts in Kansas and California.
The $3M settlement dismisses NCUA’s pending cases against the two firms. By settling, neither firm is denying or admitting to the alleged wrongdoing.

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Edwin Chin, an ex-Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) senior trader, will pay $400K to resolve U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charges accusing him of misleading the bank’s customers when he sold them residential mortgage-backed securities at prices that were higher than they should have been. Even though he is settling, Chin is not denying or admitting to the regulator’s findings. He has, however, agreed to the entry of the order stating that he violated the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 and Rule 10b-5.

According to the Commission’s order, from 2010 until 2012, which is when Chin left the bank, the former Goldman trader made extra money for the firm by concealing the prices that it had paid for different RMBSs and reselling the securities at higher prices to customers. The difference in cost would go to Goldman.

The SEC said Chin made over $1.5M in additional trading profits. Because Goldman made more money, Chin did as well.

The regulator accused Chin of sometimes misleading buyers by suggesting that he was in the process of negotiating a transaction between customers when he was merely selling residential mortgage-backed securities from Goldman’s inventory. In one alleged incident, Chin earned an additional $200K by telling a hedge fund client that he would sell a bond at cost price and without compensation. Unfortunately, he purportedly neglected to tell the hedge fund that he had already bought the security, had it in inventory, and was charging the fund a worse price than what Goldman paid earlier that day. The SEC said that Chin misled the same client about the price of a different security the following day, resulting in an additional $100K in profit.

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The U.S. Attorney for Manhattan’s Southern District is asking the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to look at a ruling that overturned the jury verdict that held Countrywide Home Loans liable for mortgage fraud. Countrywide, which is now owned by Bank of America (BAC), made billions of dollars on home loans that went into default following the 2008 financial crisis.

It was in 2007 that the mortgage provider introduced a new program, referred to as the “high-speed swim lane,” to process applications for mortgages. Within Countrywide, the program was dubbed the “hustle.”

The program did not include the majority of conditions required to make sure loans would be paid back after Wall Street banks, Freddie Mac, or Fannie Mae sold them to investors. Unfortunately, Freddie and Fannie were not told that these conditions had become more relaxed or that loans no longer met certain criteria. The two mortgage finance firms had tightened their own loan buying requirements and underwriting guidelines. As a result of the loosened restrictions by Countrywide, contended the Justice Department, “rampant instances of fraud” resulted.

Despite the 2013 jury verdict that found Countrywide and a Bank of America executive liable for mortgage fraud, a Second Circuit judge panel overruled the decision. It found that even though Countrywide purposely breached contracts, this was not fraud because the lender had not intended to fool customers at the time that contracts were signed.

Now, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wants a Second Circuit panel of judges to consider that Countrywide made false statements when selling loan bundles to customers, including Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. He said that the court bypassed evidence at trial that showed how the defendants made fraudulent misrepresentations when selling the loans and while the contracts were being executed. Prosecutors are arguing that the language in the contract refers to each mortgage sale during the actual sale and not upon the writing of the contract.

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) is a defendant in a securities lawsuit brought by Primus Pacific Partners. Primus used to own 20% of Eon Capital, a Malaysian lender. In its complaint, brought in the New York State Supreme Court, Primus accused Goldman and ex-Managing Director Tim Leissner of hiding that there were conflicts of interest involving Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), which is a sovereign wealth fund.

Goldman had been advising Eon Capital when the latter was considering a takeover offer from Hong Leong Bank Bhd, which is a Malaysian bank. According to Primus, in January ’10, Goldman and Leissner determined that Hong Leong’s first bid wasn’t fair. A few months later later, however, they decided that a revised offer that was only 2.8% greater was fair and recommended that Eon Capital take the deal.

The plaintiff believes that Goldman approved of the higher bid because it was seeking to impress the Malaysian Prime Minster whose brothers would benefit from a merger. Nazim Rajak worked for Hong Leong as a director while Nazir Rajak was chairman of CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, which advised Hong Leong about its takeover bid of EON Capital.

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) will pay $36.3M to settle allegations accusing ex-employees of obtaining access to confidential documents from the Federal Reserve. The Fed contends that Joseph Jiampietro, while working as a Goldman Sachs managing director, obtained the unauthorized supervisory data belonging to bank regulators and utilized the information for his work at the financial firm.

The Fed said that ex-Goldman Sachs banker Rohit Bansal was the one who shared the confidential documents with Jiampietro. Bansal had gotten the documents from his friend Jason Gross, a New York Fed employee that he used to work with at the regulatory agency. The confidential data involved a bank that was a client of Goldman Sachs. Last year, Bansal pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge involving the Fed documents, while Gross pleaded guilty to giving Bansal the information.

The Fed believes that Jiampietro used the confidential information to make pitches to potential and current clients. A lawyer for Jiampietro, who had previously worked for UBS Group Ag (UBS) and JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), maintains that the allegations against his client are “demonstrably false.”

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